This Man Is Betting $1.7 Billion on the Rights to Your Favorite Songs

Merck Mercuriadis [originally from Nova Scotia, Canada] thinks songwriters deserve more credit — starting with blockbuster paydays for their catalogs. But not all artists want to sell out.

By Ben Sisario,

”Streaming, which helped turn around the moribund fortunes of the 21st-century music industry, has also cemented a pop production model in which few stars write their own material. Instead, they are furnished with songs by a network of writers and producers — yet industry formulas generally split streaming royalties in a way that pays performing artists around five times more than songwriters.

“We are now in a paradigm where 90 percent of artists that are being signed are reliant on songwriters to help deliver hits,” Mercuriadis says. “And yet the songwriter is now the low man or woman on the totem pole when it comes to getting paid.”

… Mercuriadis also says that next year he and Hipgnosis will endow a “songwriters’ guild” to lobby for changes to the industry’s status quo. That may be difficult, however, since, in the United States, the publishing business is heavily regulated by federal statute and antitrust agreements.

Mercuriadis’s pitch to investors is that the royalty streams of proven hits are a more stable investment than gold or oil, given the inelastic demand for music — a premise that has largely held up during the pandemic.“

Source: The New York Times